Sheilina Somani, FAPM, RPP, PMP, is the owner
of the U.K.-based consultancy Positively Project
Management, a senior project manager, a speaker
and a mentor.
create understanding through communicating with
others. ;is, in turn, gives individuals permission
to speak more openly of their needs.
Whether we address these aspirations formally,
informally or both, they require active consideration and response. Something as simple as the use
of an agreed-upon nickname can encourage participation, a sense of belonging and team perspective.
For people who are achievement-oriented, projects need to convey tasks in su;cient size as to be
recognized as something worth completion, yet
they must be compact enough to create a ;ow of
achievement through task completion.
;ere are also colleagues for whom the gift of
time is the aspiration. ;ey want to be able to con-;ne work tasks to speci;c times so they can ful;ll
their roles outside of the project. Recognizing and
supporting these aspirations, where practical, can
enhance and deepen trust and respect.
Ultimately, the project context will be the main
driver for the ;exibility around accommodating aspirations. ;e project manager who can
consciously re;ect upon, negotiate and address
some of these aspirations will achieve constructive relationships with his or her colleagues. ;is,
in turn, resonates with organizational ethics and
values, and can then in;uence future behaviors of
all involved. PM
As project managers, how aware are we of others’
aspirational needs—their need for achievement, recognition, appreciation, reward, solitude and respect?
Whether we interpret aspiration as taking in a
breath or seeking attainment, are they very di;er-
ent? Are we project managers who provide space
or ladders, or su;ocation and slippery conditions?
Being a project manager requires a certain
measure of healthcare—for the project and all the
stakeholders directly involved. ;e outset of the
project is a challenging time of gaining trust and
seeking honesty from stakeholders. Withholding
information can be seen as deceitful; giving too
much information can be seen as overkill. So how
do we, as project managers, respond to such a
demanding variety of people?
We can approach this problem in six steps:
n Understand our own aspirations
n Accept that these will change over time
n Acknowledge that we don’t have to agree with
the aspirations of others—we simply need to
accept that they exist and are valued by each
n Seek understanding of others; encourage trust
n Listen carefully to hear what is expressed, rather
than what you interpret
n Act with integrity to ensure that these aspirations
are actively managed
We also need to give consideration to how we
articulate or express our aspirations to those we
report to and work with. It is proven that everyone
works better when his or her aspirations are being
attended to. For one person, this may be a verbal
thank-you; for another, a ;nancial reward. When
we capture these clearly for ourselves, we can then
Understanding what people seek helps
drive everyone in the right direction.
BY SHEILINA SOMANI, FAPM, RPP, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR